How do you counter a senior manager who is negative day in and day out?

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Question: "We have a member of our senior management team who never has anything positive to say about any of our employees. How do you counter someone over you who is negative day in and day out?" —Sandra

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Forsaken February 21, 2012 at 12:32 am

My boss is always negative. I am one of only two associates to have earned a year-end bonus in my store, yet she still finds EVERYTHING wrong. She never leaves her office, then critasizes our every moveafter the fact. I am so sick and tired of her and her ****! I put in for two transfers and she denied them both, so now, I am looking for another job and when I find it, I’m going to leave.

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compassion diffuses anger February 1, 2012 at 10:39 am

Sharon, I agree: (Overly negative people are often narcissists with very low self esteem. They only feel better when the focus is on them and when they have the power).
Sandra, It’s really hard not to get defensive (and mad) at being the target of a negative person’s overly critical ways, but if you can find some way to change your anger to compassion for that person that helps.
I remind myself of the troubles the neg. person has in life (and of course he has troubles, if he acts this way at work, imagine how hard he must be to live with at home!). If he is a mgr over you, it might not be possible to befriend him (and he may signal he is not interested in friendly pleasantries) but it doesn’t hurt to find something he’s done to praise out loud or in your mind or even ask for his help some time. “We like the people who like us” so if you can find SOMETHING likable about this person &/or his work that can be a start.
Try not to stew about it and distract yourself asap by finding more upbeat things/people to focus on.
(Someone once gave me this great advice: “Remember, 90% of the time when someone has a problem with YOU it’s really because there’s something wrong with THEM and in their life that has absolutely nothing to do with you.”)

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Sharon January 27, 2012 at 9:30 am

Humor helps. Try to look at it as if you are watching a sitcom like Everybody Loves Raymond. Your boss could be like Raymond’s mother. Or think of it like “The Office” sitcom.

After I was relocated to another building away from all the full time men in my department, my job was a lot more difficult. There are times I wish I did not contact the EEOC, but if I did not, it may have been much worse than now.

The other day, we made it a point to find humor in our day and actually listened to clean humor while we worked for about ten minutes. The rest of the day went so much better and we all were more focused. Work was actually fun yesterday.

Also stand up for yourself and don’t lay down to be anyone’s doormat.

PRAY – PRAY – PRAY for help.

Listen to what the manager is saying because you may find ways to improve what you are doing to meet the manager’s needs. Meeting a manager’s needs makes you life easier and it is your job.

Some bosses retaliate after an employee files sexual harassment and/or retaliation complaints. That is my case. Life can be completely exhausting working for this type of manager. Hold on or get out but do not let that person make you feel like a victim.

You cannot change some old dogs but you can train yourself to stand up, document and try to improve the work relationship wherever you can. Just don’t beat yourself up if that person does not change. Some narcissists are actually people with very low self esteem. They only feel better when the focus is on them and when they have the power to make you tremble. Don’t give them that power but do small things that help them feel better about themselves. That may improve how they treat you. Don’t give up.

As odd as it seems, I pray for my boss and his family. If you are getting beat up at work, his family may be suffering from his negativity too.

Just keep doing the right thing for the right reasons and trust God to do the rest. I feel for you. I have been there and am still working on making small strides and praying for a miracle. I’ve benefited from miracles before, so why not this time too?0

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Joyce January 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm

There is a difference between criticism and constructive criticism. I would ask directly, if this isn’t acceptable, since we all look at things differently, what do you believe it needs to make it acceptable? I have had honest behind-the-door conversations. We can agree to disagree, but I’m going to have my say. Since I’m not a mind-reader, and I’m guessing you’re not either, this is my take on the situation so we can find a way to work successfully with one another…. I have had people amazed at my ability to work with difficult people, and how easy it looks. Looks can be deceiving, it takes a lot of work, and I may still get irritated (on the inside) but I don’t show it outside that person’s office. I’ve received a lot of praises from people who have no idea what’s going on on the other side; and I keep it in that room. Whenever it came time to move on, I never looked back, except to tell myself I’ve learned how not to treat others from this person, and how to stand up for myself.000

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Anonymous January 26, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I work for someone like this, now. I never get any feedback unless it’s negative. All of my reviews are negative. My supervisors don’t talk to me unless they have to. Everything is always my fault.

I am trying to find another job and get out.0

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Jocelyn Edwards January 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I would “actively” listen to the senior manager’s comments and try to figure out what is driving their negative perception of the employees. Then, I would work to persuade the senior manager that his team strives to do a great job but may benefit from an “expectation sharing” exercise to ensure that the manager’s objectives are met and possibly exceeded.0

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Anita January 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Sandra, to me this is a difficult situation. I had a boss like this who would always have something negative to say and would chastise us in front of our customers, humiliating us. There was no way this guy was going to change. We told his superior about the way he treated us but nothing changed — so I had to change the way I processed his negativity. When I would hear his voice, over time I learned to block it out. When the opportunity would present itself, I would counter his negative statements with a positive one in a casual manner and not give any validity to the things he would say. After three years I went to another job and worked for a more reasonable person.0

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